We went down to breakfast and ran into the Coopers. They had survived the trip from Arenal after all. However, this would be the last time that we saw them.
First stop was the butterfly garden, also infamous as the residence of the tarantulas. Our guide, Alan, must have come straight out of Walter’s “crazy biologist guy” mold. Again extremely knowledgeable about his charges, he was full of information on the insects and arachnids that resided in the terrariums. Kate has something of mortal arachnophobia, so it was particularly brave of her to handle the hairy red-knee tarantula. Had I been in her Keen shoes, I would have run screaming out of the building.
We saw giant elephant and hercules beetles and learned how to distinguish beetles from cockroaches (beetles have flying wings covered by hard shells called elytra). Butterflies filled four greenhouses corresponding to the zones they inhabit. There was an interesting exhibit on leaf-cutter ants. No word on whether Alan decided to inject himself with tarantula poison.
Afterwards we headed back to the Hummingbird Gallery (thanks, Kate). Many more photos came out of this venture.
We stopped at Cafe Amigos right in the “downtown”. There was a bunch of gringos there so we didn’t expect great food. But we were pleasantly surprised. Soda-quality food plus a couple of excellent local Pilsen beers for $14. Dessert (tres leches cake) was next door. All the while it started raining hard. One of the options was to go ziplining, but we had to rule this out on account of weather.
So down the mountain we went. The dirt road from Monteverde was in much better condition than the one we took to get here from Arenal. On Highway 1, we stopped by a road-side fruit stand to pick up a pineapple and some mangoes. These would give us the chance to put to use the knife we had acquired earlier. The GPS took us on a detour to the Pacific coast. Turned out it was a blessing, because we got the chance to stop by a black-sand beach. Highway 27 looked brand-new and took us through spectacular scenery. This drive would have to be repeated at another time.
As expected, San Jose was a maze to navigate. After checking in, we headed out for an Argentinian restaurant recommended by the guidebook. It was only 6 blocks away, but the way through the warren of downtown streets was dark and somewhat sketchy (though in retrospect no sketchier than certain Boston neighborhoods). The steak, again, was excellent. I’m please to report that we have not been disappointed by our dining experience in Costa Rica.